Friday, January 16, 2009

This week in Television History KNBC Channel 4 in Los Angeles first went on the air on January 16th, 1949.

KNBC Channel 4 in Los Angeles first went on the air on January 16"th, 1949, with the call letters KNBH (NBC Hollywood) broadcasting from the NBC Radio City Studios on Sunset Boulevard and Vine Street in Hollywood (The location is now a Washington Mutual Bank). The station debuted with three hours and forty minutes of programming, which followed a fifteen-minute test pattern-and-music session. The programming included an eighteen-minute newsreel, a Review of 1948, LA’s first variety show called On the Show, and station’s first live program The Pickard Family, featuring Dad and Mom Pickard and their four children singing familiar American songs.

By October 1949, KNBH had extended its operating schedule from five to seven days a week, with approximately twenty-six hours of television programming each week. In 1954 the station changed its call letters to KRCA-TV for NBC's then-parent company, RCA (the Radio Corporation of America).

In November 1962 the station relocated to the network's color broadcast studio facility in "Beautiful Downtown Burbank" known then as NBC Color City. With the move the call letters were changed again to KNBC. NBC took the KNBC identity from its San Francisco radio station (which then became KNBR). NBC Studio in Burbank became home to Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In (Where announcer Gary Owens first coined the term "Beautiful downtown Burbank)". It was also the home to Sanford and Son, Chico and the Man, the daytime drama Days of Our Lives, countless game shows and most notably since 1972 The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and later Jay Leno.

On October 11, 2007, NBC-Universal announced that it would sell its Burbank studios and construct a new, all-digital facility near the Universal Studios lot. This is in an effort to merge all of NBC-Universal's West Coast operations into one area. When Conan O'Brien takes over The Tonight Show he will shoot in Universal’s Sound Stage 1 (The former home to The Jack Benny Program).

And now for the news.
Tom Brokaw, Bryant Gumbel, Pat Sajak, Tom Snyder,
Jack Perkins, and Nick Clooney(George’s dad) worked at KNBC news early in their careers. On a personal note: As someone who grew up in Southern California there were many local news stories that later received national or even international attention. I can also say that Channel 4 was making news while they were covering the news.

May 17th 1974 Channel 4 and other local TV stations covered a house in Compton that had been commandeered by the Symbionese Liberation Army, the revolutionary group that three months earlier had kidnapped 19-year-old Patricia Hearst (The granddaughter of the legendary newspaper baron). This was the first time I ever remember channel surfing because the event was being covered LIVE (not "Film at 11). Viewers got to see events play out as they happened. Shortly after 5 p.m. Los Angeles police, sheriffs and FBI agents closed in on the house. The house caught fire and 6 bodies were later recovered. Patty Hearst was not there.

In the summer of 1987 during an afternoon newscast, a gun-wielding mental patient took consumer reporter David Horowitz and the rest of the Channel 4 news team hostage while they were live on the air. The gunman was the son of a former Channel 4 News contributor and an invited guest of one of the news team members. As soon as the gunman appeared on camera the station stopped broadcasting the news, but as far as the gunman knew they were ON THE AIR. Viewers would later see tape of Horowitz calmly reading the gunman's statement on camera with a gun pointed at him. After Horowitz finished reading the statement the gunman surrendered his toy gun and was arrested. This event led Horowitz (whose long running syndicated series, Fight Back! originated from Channel 4) to start a successful campaign to ban "look-alike" toy guns in several states, including California and New York.

Later that year on October 1st 1987 viewers watched anchorman Kent Shocknek and weatherman Christopher Nance dive under their news desk during an after shock from the Whittier Narrows earthquake. Kent Shocknek would never live down this event and forever be known as Kent "After-Shocknek". It should also be noted that Kent Shocknek was later honored by the Red Cross and by a few cities for demonstrating how to behave during an earthquake.

KNBC Channel 4 News (1987) - Earthquake in the Newsroom
by joecool85

On April 30th 1992, the second day of the Los Angeles Riots, KNBC News was covering the historic event nonstop. But that evening the station decided to suspend it’s around the clock riot coverage to air the series finale of The Cosby Show giving viewers a brief Mental Sorbet. Following the broadcast Bill Cosby went on the air and asked Angelinos to pray for peace.

Happy Anniversary NBC 4
To quote the Bicentennial Minute, "And that's the way it was" January 16th, 1949

Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa

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